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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Donald Trump asks justice department to investigate New York Times op-ed

Barack Obama described president as a "symptom, not the cause"

President Trump described publication of savage NYT op-ed as "treason" (Reuters)
President Trump described publication of savage NYT op-ed as "treason" (Reuters)

Donald Trump has called for the US Justice Department to try to identify the writer of an anonymous New York Times opinion piece by a senior US government official that described the US president as adrift from reality and unstable.

Mr Trump said it was an issue of “national security”. While the president has raged against The New York Times since it published the story on Wednesday, he suggested he could pursue legal action against the paper but did not elaborate.

“I would say [attorney-general] Jeff [Sessions] should be investigating who the author of that piece was because I really believe it’s national security,” said Mr Trump. The president said it was a “disgrace” the op-ed was published.

Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama entered the fray on Friday and said the current president is “the symptom not the cause”. He is "just capitalising on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years”, said Mr Obama.

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When asked if legal action against the newspaper was being explored, Mr Trump said: “We’re going to see, I’m looking at that right now. We’re going to take a look at what he had, what he gave, what he’s talking about, also where he is right now.

"The Times should never have done that, because really what they've done is virtually, you know, it's treason," he told Fox News on Friday.

Meanwhile, speaking at the University of Illinois, Mr Obama asked: "What happened to the Republican Party? They're undermining our alliances, cozying up to Russia.”

The party's "central organising principle in foreign policy was the fight against communism and now they're cozying up to the former head of the KGB,” he said.

Mr Obama also accused Mr Trump of inaction and failing to condemn neo-Nazi-marches in Virginia last year.

"It shouldn't be Democratic or Republican to say we don't target certain groups of people based on what they look like or how they pray. We are Americans. We're supposed to stand up to bullies, not follow them," he said.

For Mr Trump, this week’s events were the latest skirmish in the long-running fight he has picked with the media and against leaks from the White House.

The New York Times said it would not reveal the identity of the official. So tightly guard is the individual’s name, the opinion page editors have refused to divulge any information to colleagues.

The op-ed writer, who described themselves as a member of the administration’s “resistance” chastised Mr Trump and said many in the White House had strained to stop the president’s most dangerous influences.

Published on Wednesday, the article said "unsung heroes" were quietly working within the administration to frustrate the president's "worst inclinations".

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